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HUD 803.2

Willard, Samuel, 1775-1859. Samuel Willard letters to family members, 1798-1815 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 803.2
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Willard, Samuel, 1798-1815.
Title: Samuel Willard letters to family members, 1798-1815.
Date(s): 1798-1815.
Quantity: 0.22 cubic feet (1 legal half document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Samuel Willard, minister, educator, and musician, was born on April 18, 1775 in Petersham, Massachusetts, the seventh child of eleven children, to Deacon William Willard and Katherine (sometimes spelled "Katharine" or "Catharine") Wilder Willard. This collection consists of letters that Willard wrote to his parents and various siblings throughout different stages of his life. The correspondence begins while Willard is teaching and studying in Lancaster, Massachusetts, continues while he is a student at Harvard College, carries on after his graduation as he travels and teaches in different locations throughout Maine and Massachusetts, and concludes during Willard's tenure as the minister of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Acquisition information:

The Samuel Willard letters to family members, 1798-1815, was received at Harvard University on October 19, 1942, by Mrs. N.C. Holland.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed in June 2013 by Olivia Mandica-Hart.
Processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders, and the creation of this finding aid. All titles were devised by the archivist.
This finding aid was created by Olivia Mandica-Hart in July 2013.

Researcher Access:

The Samuel Willard letters to family members, 1798-1815, is open for research use.

Copyright President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2013:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Preferred Citation:

Willard, Samuel, 1775-1859. Samuel Willard letters to family members, 1798-1815. HUD 803.2, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives:
In the Houghton Library:
In the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library at the Memorial Libraries, Deerfield, Massachusetts:
In the Petersham Historical Society:

Biographical Note

Samuel Willard, minister, educator, and musician, was born on April 18, 1775* in Petersham, Massachusetts, the seventh child of eleven children, to Deacon William Willard and Katherine (sometimes spelled "Katharine" or "Catharine") Wilder Willard. He spent the early years of his young adulthood helping with labors on the family farm, until resuming his studies with a grammar schoolmaster in 1797, where he memorized Latin grammar. In 1798, he taught at a district school in Lancaster, Massachusetts and studied with Reverend Nathaniel Thayer, in order preparation for Harvard's entrance examinations. Willard entered Harvard in July 1799, and was one of the first two of his class to be admitted to Phi Beta Kappa. During his sophomore and junior years, he lived with his uncle Harvard president Joseph Willard's house in exchange for tutoring his cousin Sheafe. In the spring of his junior year, Willard suffered a severe attack of measles, which weakened both of his eyes and lead to his eventual blindness.
Following his graduation from Harvard College in 1803, Willard accepted a teaching position at Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. In September 1804, he went to Hampton, New Hampshire to study theology with Revered Jesse Appleton. After a month of studying with Appleton, Willard accepted an invitation to tutor at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine. He returned to Harvard in August 1805 to informally study theology and earn money as a proctor. He began preaching in Hingham, Massachusetts in March 1806, and for the remainder of the year, preached in Marlboro, Haverhill, Lexington, Boston, and Montague. In January 1807, he moved to Andover in hopes of finding employment, but left for Deerfield in March of that year, to become the fifth minister of Deerfield and the first Unitarian in the Pioneer Valley. Upon his arrival in Deerfield, he established a singing school for his parishioners. In 1808, Willard's Deerfield Collection of Sacred Music was published, which included musical grammar and his directions for singing the hymns. He wrote a total of 518 hymns with musical directions. On May 30, 1808, Willard married Susan Barker; they had three children.
In 1825, Willard became the School Superintendent of Deerfield and wrote a series of reader booklets for the town's schoolchildren. Later in his life, he became interested in abolitionist causes, and in 1850, spoke publicly against the Fugitive Slave Act. Willard died on October 8, 1859, in Deerfield, Massachusetts.
*Note: Although some sources indicate that Samuel Willard was born in 1776, the Vital Records of Petersham, Massachusetts verify that he was, in fact, born in 1775.

References

Arrangement

The items within each series are arranged in chronological order. This collection is arranged into two series:

Scope and Content

This collection consists of letters that Samuel Willard wrote to his parents and various siblings throughout different stages of his life. The correspondence begins while Willard is teaching and studying in Lancaster, Massachusetts, continues while he is a student at Harvard College, carries on after his graduation as he travels and teaches in different locations throughout Maine and Massachusetts, and concludes during Willard's tenure as the minister of Deerfield, Massachusetts. The first two letters discuss his time studying with Reverend Nathaniel Thayer and teaching school in Lancaster, Massachusetts. While at Harvard, the letters refer to Willard's uncle, Harvard president Joseph Willard, his finances and expenses, his clothing, with occasional references to his academic and social experiences. His post-graduation years document when he taught in Brunswick, Maine at Bowdoin College, and in Exeter, New Hampshire, as well as his time as a proctor at Harvard. Finally, Willard's letters from Deerfield, Massachusetts discuss topics such as preaching, music, family issues, and various local Deerfield affairs.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 February 18.

Online access

All of the letters have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Container List


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